Toxic information and fake news

Toxic information and fake news

Everyone speaks lies to one another; their speech is smooth; they talk with duplicity. – Psalms 12:3

Proverbs 6:16-19

 16 There are six things the LORD hates – no, seven things he detests:

 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent,

 18 a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong,

 19 a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.

With the rise of “modern” communication techniques, newspapers, and magazines, followed by radio and television, news and information became more and more available throughout planet Earth. Towards the end of the 20th century, it seemed as though we had too much information (TMI) or information overload. With the development of the Internet the availability of global information increased exponentially.

While disinformation and misinformation were nothing new, they had been used quite effectively to confuse the enemy during World War II, the ability to dispense it was also raised astronomically.

But people did not stop there. They proceeded to spread their worldviews, personal or global agendas, taking advantage of the new media capabilities. “Toxic information” and “fake news” polluted our ability to know what was really going on and why.

How can we separate fact from fiction, “fake news,” and comprehend what is going on and then draw fact-based observations and make the best decisions possible?

In August 2020, Logically, UK-based fact-checking social enterprise,launched its Chrome browser extension, which allows users to analyze and evaluate the credibility of online articles, fact-check dubious claims, and highlight toxic comments on social platforms. This AI tool can help people, platforms, and governments identify misinformation across the Internet (Eileen Brown for Social Business, August 13, 2020).

The Bible has much stronger terms to describe what we call toxic information and fake news: wicked and deceptive words, lies, flattering lips and insincere speech. The purpose is to manipulate others to achieve an outcome according to a preconceived agenda and game plan. This is what it was like in the days of King David.

Psalms 12:2 Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

The Hebrew word translated lies is shave. Shaveis something worthless, fraudulent, fictitious, untrue. It is something which is of absolutely no value or use.

The Hebrew expression beleḇ waleḇ, translated a double heart is literally “a heart and a heart” or “with heart and heart.” This idiomatic expression conveys the idea of duplicity, deceit, double-dealing, and for those familiar with old western movies “a forked tongue” (UBS). The point is that duplicitous hearts produce duplicitous words.

“David knew that he was living in a society controlled by deception. It wasn’t that only a few people were telling lies; deception was a major characteristic of the whole generation.”

“What would David say if he were alive today and witnessed the propaganda and promotion that make up what we casually call ‘the media?’ He would probably describe today’s ‘communication’ as he did centuries ago: empty and useless words (‘vanity’), smooth talk (‘flattery’), double-talk from double hearts, and boastful talk or ‘proud words’” (Wiersbe).

How is it possible to live successfully in a world filled with manipulative toxic information and fake news?

REFLECT & PRAY

Proverbs 12:19 Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is only for a moment.

Father help me to know the Truth, believe the Truth, speak the Truth, and make my decisions based upon the Truth.

INSIGHT

The Father has provided His children with two resources that allow us to separate truth from error, fact from fiction, what is precious from what is worthless: The Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard.

The Lord Jesus Christ promised to send the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, and He will guide His disciples into all Truth. The Holy Spirit will accurately and precisely reveal what they need to know.

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

The disciples would not have to rely upon their memories or recall regarding what the Lord Jesus Christ said. The Holy Spirit would teach them everything they needed to know and help them to remember it. This was a promise to the disciples that they would be able to accurately remember and record precisely what the Father desired in the record of the four Gospels. Putting it in other terms, the Gospels are accurate history of the events that transpired. The Holy Spirit supernaturally enabled the human authors to write the Gospels exactly as He intended. There was no need for discussion or arbitration.

John 17:17 Your word is truth.

In a few words, the Lord Jesus Christ stated that the Word of God is Truth. All children of the King can stand firmly upon this great fact. The Father has provided absolute Truth.

1 Thessalonians 5:5 For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.

All of the Father’s children are children of the light and children of the day. Enabled by the Holy Spirit, we have the potential to discern and separate what is precious from what is worthless. Will that work in every case? Probably not. Even the most discerning can be deceived. But it is incumbent upon us to make every effort to not walk in darkness. When we recognize toxic information, or fake news, we simply reject it.

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